Kennedy and the memory hole

Belmont Club:

The one unarguable virtue of Ted Kennedy's speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies is that it nails his colors to the mast. He wants America to begin pulling immediately out of Iraq after the elections. Going in the first place was in his view a mistake, a strategic dead end in which the Janaury 30 election is a compounded error; another step on the road to another Vietnam.


And perhaps for the first time in history, Ted Kennedy's words will not be forgotten. The emergence of the Internet has closed down the "memory hole" within which the former apologists of Joseph Stalin, Kim Il Sung, Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein could hide their bad advance and from which they could emerge at whiles to offer new sage advice. The term 'memory hole' itself was coined by George Orwell who used it to describe the mechanism through which the media manipulated historical memory. One of the tenets of the Party in Orwell's 1984 was that "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past", and the key to achieving mastery over history was the liberal use of the 'memory hole'.


Unfortunately for someone, whether it be Senator Kennedy, Bishop Sako or George Bush, a monolithic media no longer controls collective memory. Recently Max Boot reminded Seymour Hersh of his past writing and what little resemblance it bore to events. If Iraqis, in defiance of present-day O'Briens, can drink a toast to the future, it is due in part to the new-found power to stand once again upon the past. To all the custodians of the memory hole one can say, 'Who acts in the present controls the future. Who manufactures fantasy becomes the past.'

It is a lengthy piece that is worth the read.


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